International Court of Justice Orders Israel To Prevent Genocide In Gaza

THE International Court of Justice (ICJ) rules that Israel must take all measures to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza, but stops short of ordering an immediate halt to operations

The UN top court says Israel must ensure its forces do not commit genocide and ensure preservation of evidence of alleged genocide.

The court did not agree to South Africa’s request for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza – something that will disappoint the South Africans and Palestinians alike.

But by large majorities the court’s 17 judges ruled, among other measures, that Israel should do everything in its power to avoid killing Palestinians, causing them serious bodily or mental harm or imposing measures intended to prevent Palestinian women from giving birth.

This is not the court’s final ruling on genocide – that’s likely to take several years. But the measures called for today are designed to make sure that while the judges consider South Africa’s fundamental charge against Israel, the Palestinians of Gaza enjoy some measure of protection.

Israel must now decide how to respond. The ICJ’s rulings are binding, but there’s no enforcement mechanism. Israel could choose to ignore the judges altogether. But with diplomatic efforts now apparently concentrating on the possibility of a two-month ceasefire, and efforts still being made to improve the flow of aid into the Gaza Strip, Israel may argue that it’s already taking steps to meet the court’s demands.

Unpacking The ICJ Ruling

This was an interesting ruling because the judges agreed with most of South Africa’s arguments: They agreed that they had jurisdiction in this case, that they have standing in the case, that some of the things that South Africa has alleged are certainly taking place within the definition of the Genocide Convention.

But where South Africa will be unhappy is the final operative paragraph, the rulings of the provisional measures are not the ones that South Africa asked for.

There were some specifics that Israel must do. More humanitarian aid, and that Israel’s got to appear again before the court with a report in one month’s time to deal with the issues that the court has raised.

The ruling says that Israel needs to take every measure in its power to prevent things that could lead to genocide. It’s for legal scholars now to look at this, because those include prevent killings of people within the protected group.

Well, the protected group is Palestinians, so if you are going to protect Palestinians in Gaza, and for that matter probably in the West Bank, how can that happen when Israel continues its indiscriminate bombardment on the ground in Gaza?

The Provisional Measures Issued By Court:

Israel must take all measures to prevent any acts that could be considered genocidal – killing members of a group, causing bodily harm, inflicting conditions designed to bring about the destruction of a group, preventing births.

Israel must ensure its military does not commit any genocidal acts.

Israel must prevent and punish any public comments that could be considered incitement to commit genocide in Gaza.

Israel must take measures to ensure humanitarian access.

Israel must prevent any destruction of evidence that could be used in a genocide case.

Israel must submit a report to the court within one month of this order being given.

The court also expressed grave concern about the fate of hostages being held by Hamas and called for their immediate release.

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